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A leap towards an impactful NHL regular: Cole Perfetti Jets Nation year in review

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Photo credit:© James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports
Connor Baldwin
1 month ago
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Welcome back Jets fans to another Jets Nation year in review. This one is the 2nd and final one for today, May 6th, 2024 and it will be all about the young centre from Whitby, Ontario: Cole Perfetti. If you’re wondering what these year in reviews are about, well, they are recaps of a player’s season with the Jets in the 2023-24 season and a look-ahead for what they might do for the team next season.
The fascinating thing about Cole Perfetti is that entering this season he was still highly regarded as one of the top 5 “prospects” in the Jets organization. The 2022-23 season was Perfetti’s 1st full NHL season, playing in 51 games, and he had a solid year, putting up 8 goals and 22 assists for 30 points. Year number 2 for the 22-year old came with some higher expectations, and all things considered he lived up to them. In 71 games, Perfetti tallied 19 goals and 19 assists for 38 points.
The leap that Perfetti took this season was definitely in the right direction in terms of his progression, and beginning to live up to his potential. The significant improvement includes almost hitting the 20 goal mark despite being played on various lines throughout the season. After all, Perfetti was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft, so being that high of a pick will always come with some increased expectations.
Part of the scouting report about Perfetti back when he was drafted praised his versatility. Perfetti, as seen this season, can play both at centre and on the wing, and his hockey sense is what helps him succeed in the situations he’s placed in. Being an impactful player in the lineup usually means you can go above what is the minimum expected of you. Perfetti was starting to show that this season with his vision and somewhat underrated shot and release.
Those traits and Perfetti’s ability to process the game at a high speed are what lead me to believe that he could be a very impactful player in the Jets lineup as soon as next season. When I think about another current Winnipeg Jets player who has faced some adversity in his trajectory towards being an impactful NHL player, I think of Mark Scheifele. There was a time where people simply didn’t believe in Scheifele’s development, but hey, look at him now, he’s one of the most important players on the Jets today.
Perfetti’s game hasn’t been entirely consistent though, which is why I’ve said that he’s still in the process of learning how to be an impactful player. There was a stretch where Perfetti was on a 15-game pointless streak, which is something you never want to see from a player who is expected to put up points. This tough stretch ended up having Perfetti move down from the 2nd line to the 4th line and eventually almost costing him a spot in the lineup.
Despite the adversity, Perfetti was able to rebound as the season went on, and it was surely a learning moment for him. Of course, Perfetti will succeed best in a top 6 role, that’s just where talents like Perfetti are able to score and perform at the highest level. The well-rounded talent of Perfetti has been showcased in parts of the season, and he needs to remain confident that he can hold an everyday top 6 role on this Jets team in the near future.
Then came the playoffs, and to the surprise of most Jets fans, Perfetti was left out of the lineup. This was a surprise because even though Perfetti has no prior playoff experience, it seemed like he would be able to step into his 1st playoff experience and help the team out. However, it wouldn’t be until game 5, with the season on the line, that Cole Perfetti would make his playoff debut.
Despite the unfortunate ending to Perfetti’s only playoff game, the off-season is going to be very interesting for him. Perfetti’s 3-year entry level deal ends this season, meaning that he is now a restricted free agent. It’s pretty clear that the Jets will sign Perfetti sooner than later, but for how much and for how long will be the real questions. Could he take a “bridge” deal for 2 to 3 years to prove himself before a big long term deal? A shorter deal seems like the likelier option, but the Jets may try to sign him to a 6 or 7 year deal this off-season to potentially bank on him hitting his potential and making it a good value contract in the future.
Whichever route the Jets decide to take, look out for Perfetti to make a greater impact with the Jets next season. I decided to not go too deep into Perfetti’s advanced analytics to assess his season because of the fact that he was moved around in the lineup. That being said, the numbers do collectively point to Perfetti having an overall positive impact on the Jets lineup.
As mentioned, all that Jets fans can do for now is wait and see what Cole Perfetti’s 1st post-entry level contract will look like. After all, the real fun begins for Perfetti’s career as he’ll be expected to continue to grow his game and prove that he can be an impactful top-6 player in the NHL. I have a good feeling about Perfetti, and if I had to make a prediction I’d say he could hit the 50 point mark next season. Overall it was a positive step for the development for a “prospect” who could be turning into an impactful NHL regular come the 2024-25 season.

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